Beyond Execution

Making a difference in project management by training, speaking and writing


Living up to Your Contract

Posted by beyondexecution on February 27, 2011 at 2:46 PM

In Toronto, we had a recent trade involving our baseball team, the Blue Jays.  A player by the name of Vernon Wells had been traded to the Anaheim Angels for 2 players. Trades are a normal part of the business but what made this a top-flight transaction was the contract that Vernon Wells had. He had been signed 3 years ago to a 7-year $126 million contract, with $86 million still owed to him for the next 4 years. In baseball, his contract was thought untradeable due to the sheer amount.


Now, by every account Wells was a great guy, very likeable, and able to produce, albeit inconsistently. But in no way, shape or form was he worth that kind of money, especially when compared to his peers, or competition, so to speak. When he didn't produce, he was booed mercilessly and publicly derided at times.  The money paid to him limited the organization, because it tied up their money in him, when they might have been able to spend elsewhere.  That being said, you can't blame him for accepting money someone was able to give him.


The point of this?  Many times we experience this on our projects, whether it is an expensive internal resource, to a contractor, to a sub-contracted vendor. You're paying top-notch dollars for a lot less in return. And you can't just trade the not-worth-that-kind-of-money resource away.


So what to do? First step is to face the big ugly naked truth and provide the feedback directly. This is tricky when there are contracts in place but still can be done (please have the foresight to include some sort of feedback and acceptance criteria in contracts). Lay out the expectations and an improvement plan. If they still can't cut it, then you've got some tougher decisions to make. Internally, you might be able to dump them. You can cut a contractor. With vendors, read the contract. Hopefully, you've structured the contract(s) to be flexible for you. A few ways this can be done:

- pay by deliverable

- acceptance criteria of deliverables

- interview/review of assigned resources before deployment

- initial "try-out" period, eg 30 days

- cancellation clause


There are lots more I'm sure. For signs of poor performance and how to give feedback, check out other sections of this site.


Get your money's worth! Don't get stuck like my Blue Jays did!


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